In all this discussion lately about the HHS contraception mandate and the Catholic Church’s stance on paying for it, there have been anti-Catholic voices who have decried the Church as trying to subjugate women (again) to lives of being barefoot and pregnant for all of eternity (or at least those 20 years or so of fertile life that some women experience). Now, putting aside for the moment the fact that when you are pregnant you don’t really want to WEAR shoes, I would like to give a little insight into the life of this woman who has never been on birth control.
I take my inspiration from this post, written by Jennifer Fulweiler over at NCR.com about a new book that has come out recently, full of the voices of Catholic women unashamed of the fact that they do not, in fact, use birth control and are quite happy that way, thank you very much.
I have never used hormonal contraception. I was very much a “good girl” in high school and had a mother who, for better or worse, trusted me to not get pregnant during those tender teen years. I know that the idea of staying a virgin until marriage is, if not passe, at least considered ridiculous for us sex-crazed, unable to control ourselves, post-sexual revolution generations, but I managed (by the grace of God) to do it (or not “do it” as the case may be).
But it would be disingenuous to say that I EVER intended to use birth control. I am a Catholic convert. Mac and I still joke about the fact that on our first official date (we were friends for a long time before dating) the concept of birth control came up and I expressed that I did not intend to ever use it. My parents, though not Catholic, had done a lot of research when they were a young, married couple and decided to use natural family planning after the birth of my younger brother, their second child. And they used it successfully to avoid pregnancy for more than eight years until my youngest brother was born. Having them as an example, hearing that birth control may act as abortifacient, led me to know, even as a teenager, that I did not want to ever use hormonal birth control. Perhaps I felt the need with Mac to draw a proverbial line in the sand and see if he would have any trouble crossing it. He didn’t.
I have not learned anything about birth control in the last 20 years of my life to lead me to believe that it is anything that I want in my body. I have a mother and an aunt who have had breast cancer. I now feel that it is by the grace of God that I have never used birth control. My risk of contracting breast cancer would have been greatly increased if I had.
I don’t feel oppressed. I feel liberated to know that I am not putting anything in my body to alter my hormones in such a way as to suppress my God-given fertility. There are so many girls who start on birth control before they even know if their bodies work correctly, doing 15-20 years of damage if they begin birth control in their teens and get married late in life.
There is great joy and great freedom in the Church’s teaching on marriage and fertility. And yes, when pregnant, there’s the freedom to NOT wear shoes.